|This morning we left for a three hour drive to Ha Long Bay. On the drive we saw rice paddies and more rice paddies. Each village has the rice paddies in front and only one road into the village. In the middle of some of the rice paddies was the cemetery. The village is very cohesive, everyone works together.
Rice is the economy of Vietnam. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of rice.
Most of the work for the rice is atthebeginning and the time of harvesting. The men plow the field twice and then go off to work on the factories. The women transplant the rice in the fields, by hand and take care of any weedy that needs to be done. The women here have lots of back problems from bending over to plant the rice and weeding.
Depending on what part of the country determines how many rice crops. In the mountains, you can get one crop; Hanoi area you can get 2 and in the Mekong Delta you can get 3 crops.
In the 1980's everyone was equal, it didn't matter if you worked for a hour or 15 hours pay was the same. There was no incentive to produce rice. This low production lead to a nation of starving clothes less people.
1986 farmers were given the property they had been farming for the landlord. Amount of property depended on size of family, what kind of support you gave during the war and relationship with government officials. Families are now sending their children to university either in Hanoi, Da Nang or Saigon. The children are not returning to the rural area. It's becoming harder to farm. They are selling their farms and working in the factories- Samsung Galaxy is here, Cannon and the largest Intel plants are in Vietnam. Over the last 10 years the rural population has decreased fro 90% of people living in the rural area to 70%. Vocational colleges are now being built to prepare people for the factory work.
Ha long Bay, known as the Bay of Descending Dragons, is an area with 3,000 islands and islets of limestone. This area is 300 million years old. Erosion has caused the changes in the formations. Oyster farming is done here. We went out on Junk 37. Many beautiful formations. Several fishing/ house boats were on the bay. We also came upon a floating boat village. It was a beautiful area and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Our pit stop for the trip both on the wayt there and back was a marble carving factory and a silk embroidery factory. Both men and women were embroideriing beautiful works of art!
History lesson for the day, Vietnamese hold no animosity towards the Americans and French. They hate the Chinese. Why? They hate the Chinese because they have been at war with them for centuries. They ruled from the 1st to the 10th centuries.
Why do they not hate the Americans? One reason is 55% of the population was born after the war. Second reason is for 2000 years everyday of their lives they have been at war. The country had enclosed off from the rest of the world. They didn't know anything about capitalism or America. Because the villages are so cohesive and rice is there economy, all the government head to say was theAmericans were threatening the peace of the village. They were fighting to save their village and probably with government issued weapons. They would have fought anyone that the government told them was a threat. Gives you a bit of a different perspective of the war.
Politics: At age 18 you have the right to vote for the Congress. Congress represents the 64 cities and providences of Vietnam. Elections are held every 5 years. Our guideways ever voted as he feels his vote doesn't really count. He is probably right. One party system. The party of 500 members meets to decide the ballot and you must be a member of the party to be considered. There is only one choice for the members of Congress.
How to become a party member. There are 3 steps. All primary school must join the Young Pioneer Association, they wearable red scarf. In secondary and college they are voted by teachers and classmates to move onto the second level. You turn your scarf in for a badge. Third level, our guide got electd to be president of the Union of his English Department in college. He then was told he would be promoted to be a member of the Communist Party. But he chose not to continue on.